Twenty-one IPS officers from Uttar Pradesh took a break from policing recently to take lessons on an issue that would surely help them when they handle sensitive cases in future – learning to correctly communicate with the media.
The UP Government sensing a need for an image makeover for the state police sponsored an additional director general, two inspector generals, four Deputy inspector generals and several superintendents of police to attend a five-day course on media communication at the Indian Institute of Mass Communication (IIMC) in the Capital. The course was conducted between December 18 and 22 at the IIMC campus. Though the Army occasionally comes to IIMC to take similar lessons, the last time such a course was held for the police was in 1992.
Officers were drawn from various departments like the police training school, economic offences wing, railways and intelligence among others.
An SP who attended it said the course almost got off on the wrong note after the faculty found that police officers were calling it a `media management course’. ``The faculty was appalled at the fact that the police though that the media could be managed. How can we be taught how to `use’ the media? They insisted in calling it medial communication,’’ the officer said.
Once the `communication’ part started, the students and their teachers settled down to a 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. routine comprising lectures, interactive sessions, panel discussions and mock interviews. The routine was strict, and according to course director, Pradeep Mathur, the officers were also reprimanded for turning up late. The valedictory speech was given Rajya Sabha Secretary General Yogendra Narain.
``Emphasis was more on the visual media. We were told about basic body language, on words that need to be avoided and the even the background that needs to be used at a press conference. The faculty told us to remember three things that when we are on television – do not be judgmental, not to pass verdict and not to get cornered by questions,’’ the police officer said.
Mathur said the faculty’s main thrust was discard the `district psyche’ out of the minds of the officers. ``Even their most senior officers are caught up with the district’s media. They had to understand that there is bigger media world outside,’’ Mathur said.
Some play was also arranged for the students. ``They were taken out to the Press Club of India for dinner, to see a ply at the National School of Drama and also to the studio of a Hindi channel,’’ Mathur said.
At the end, the students went back to their duties carrying 150 pages on various aspects of the media. ``We just wish they read those papers,’’ Mathur said.